"Have you come up with an excuse?"
Sheng Jiaoyang trembled as soon as she saw that signature smile, which represented someone being out of luck, on Shen Zhining's face.
"W-what excuse? I was just thinking about how to tell you this in a succinct manner." Her head was spinning like crazy as she tried to think of…an excuse.
"You have three seconds. Three! Two!"
Shen Zhining’s lips curled upwards slightly as he sneered, "One! Go ahead."
But, at this time, Sheng Jiaoyang's cell phone suddenly rang.
"My phone’s ringing." She stared at Shen Zhining anxiously, waiting for him to let go.
Shen Zhining remained unmoved and looked at her with an ‘If you don't talk now, then don’t blame me for being rude’ expression.
Sheng Jiaoyang was so angry that she gnashed her teeth, but she didn’t dare to let it show on the surface. In order to show her sincerity, she didn’t even blink as she said, "Do you still remember that I had a nightmare the night before we left?"
It was true, so Shen Zhining acquiesced.
"I saw Jiaoyang in my dream."
Shen Zhining squinted slightly. "Isn't Jiaoyang your idol? Then, how could you have a nightmare when you dream about her?"
Sheng Jiaoyang closed her eyes to mull over her emotions. She then said in a choked voice, "I was initially very happy to dream about her, but in the dream, she told me that she could no longer wake up. She also didn't want to continue living in a vegetative state and let her grandfather worry about her day and night. She might as well cut the Gordian knot and asked me to lend her a hand and free her of worldly worries…"
The grip around her neck suddenly tightened.
"Free her of worldly worries?" Shen Zhining slowly uttered these words, and his pupils dilated with darkness.
“Cough, hear me out first,” Sheng Jiaoyang weakly said.
Seeing her reddened complexion, Shen Zhining slowly loosened his grip.
Sheng Jiaoyang grabbed his wrist with her hands, fearing that he’d suddenly go crazy again. What if he accidentally strangled her to death? In that case, she wouldn’t be as lucky and have a third chance at life again.
"I asked her why she couldn't wake up." Sheng Jiaoyang had successfully grabbed Shen Zhining's attention. "And, she answered that she’d been gone for too long, so she could no longer find her way back."
Sheng Jiaoyang paused. "Then, I asked her how I could help her and she said that I didn't have to do anything; I just had to go and see her. Additionally, she asked me to relay a message to her grandfather."
"Grandfather, I'm going to live a different life in another place. In the future, you should take care of yourself and you don't have to grieve for me, because I’m going to live well in that other place."
Shen Zhining examined Sheng Jiaoyang’s expression. When she’d said those words, she looked solemn and didn’t seem to be lying.
Despite the fact that it was unknown whether these kinds of dreams were real or fake, why didn’t Jiaoyang directly visit Grandfather Yang in a dream? Why would she visit someone totally unrelated to her instead?
No, they were somewhat acquainted. Jiaoyang had hit Jiaojiao with her car!
Sheng Jiaoyang was also secretly observing Shen Zhining's expression. Seeing his slight movements, she knew that her words had gotten through to him. He might not believe all of it, but he had, at least, accepted her reasoning.
The entire room was quiet, except for the sound of the two breathing.
Following this, the phone suddenly rang.
Shen Zhining’s expression changed ever so slightly. He glanced at Sheng Jiaoyang before turning to answer the call.
Sheng Jiaoyang covered her neck and exhaled, feeling as if she’d just had a close brush with death. She raised her head and stared at Shen Zhining's back. She only heard him say, "Grandfather Yang."
It was a call from grandfather…
"Zhining, accompany me to the bank tomorrow to pick up the things left behind by Aunt Yang." Hearing this, Shen Zhining agreed.
Following this, Grandfather Yang suddenly changed the topic and asked, "Zhining, is Jiaojiao with you?"
Shen Zhining froze for a moment. He turned right on time to see Sheng Jiaoyang pulling a face at him. Seeing this, his mood slightly cooled and he replied, "Yes."
"Then, all is well. I called her earlier, but she didn’t pick up. I was worried that something bad may have happened to her."
Hearing the concern in Grandfather Yang's voice, Shen Zhining was especially surprised. A few days ago, Grandfather Yang had said that he never wanted to see Jiaojiao again. How come he’s so worried about her now?
"Tell her to go home earlier, a girl shouldn't stay out so late."
When the call ended, Shen Zhining glanced at Sheng Jiaoyang, who was staring at him with a vigilant look, and asked in an enigmatic tone, "Have you told Grandfather Yang your dream?"
"He asked me, so I told him," Sheng Jiaoyang replied without blinking an eye.
Shen Zhining lowered his gaze in contemplation. After a while, he finally said, "You can leave, take your things with you."
"Really?” Sheng Jiaoyang's eyes lit up. She licked her lips and excitedly asked, "So, I don’t need to act as your girlfriend anymore?"
Shen Zhining leaned against the desk and crossed his arms over his chest. "You seem happy."
It’s not that I seem happy, I’m ecstatic! But, how would she dare to tell him this? She tried her best to control her emotions, and said with a straight face, "Acting every day is stressful for me. I just want to be myself."
"So, you were acting in front of me all this time?" Shen Zhining asked with an unreadable expression, seemingly implying something.
"Well…not really," Sheng Jiaoyang cautiously replied.
Shen Zhining walked to the chair behind the desk and faintly said, "You can leave."
A smile blossomed on Sheng Jiaoyang's face and she briskly left the study. When she’d come by last time, she’d packed everything and brought some clothes home, so she only had to get her suitcase. As she dragged the suitcase past the study, she suddenly stopped in her tracks, peering at the expressionless Shen Zhining sitting behind the desk. "Zhining, Grandmother Andy told me that you suffer from indigestion. Remember to eat on time, and you must eat three meals a day."
With that said, she happily dragged her suitcase away without further ado.
Shen Zhining simply stared at the empty doorway with complex feelings stirring in his heart.
He sat there quietly and thought about a lot of things.
He was thinking about what Xu Jiaojiao had said earlier, about Jiaoyang visiting her in a dream. Although his rationality told him that he shouldn’t believe her words, he couldn’t explain why she’d fainted as soon as she approached Jiaoyang, and soon after, Jiaoyang had also stopped breathing.
Jiaojiao imitates Sheng Jiaoyang in all respects, so maybe she did that because she was her diehard fan. After all, she was only 17 years old, and it was common to see fangirls her age behave in that manner.
He also thought about…the things she’d said on her way out.
Zhining, Grandmother Andy told me that you suffer from indigestion. Remember to eat on time, and you must eat three meals a day.
During the time they’d spent together, except for the fact that she was constantly trying to get on his good side, he really didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary or that she was harbouring any bad intentions. He still remembered the way she’d behaved the last time they’d encountered the car accident. Her performance back then had left a deep impression on him. If that was just her acting, he would have nothing to say. If that was the case, he would praise even her acting skills for being so watertight.
He lowered his gaze and stared at the hand he’d put on the back of his chair, the same hand he’d used to strangle her earlier. Her terrified expression from just a moment ago suddenly flashed across his mind. Even though he treated her like that, she didn't remember the pain. Instead, she’d kindly reminded him to eat his meals before she’d left.
After sitting deep in thought for a long time, he got up and went downstairs.
The light in the living room was still on, but she was already nowhere in sight.
Shen Zhining stood there, recalling all the memories she’d left behind. Some small things were usually forgotten, but as everything came together as he reminisced, he realised that he could still remember every single one of them.
He often lay there, and a pair of hands would gently massage the top of his head. A clear voice belonging exclusively to her would travel to his ear as she told him about this and that.
She’d complain a bit about the teacher targeting her at school.
She’d secretly rejoice over her classmates’ adoration.
She’d vent about the paparazzi persistently tailing her.
However, her gentle movements never stopped.
The Dining Room
She sat on the dining chair and beamed at him.
Good morning, Zhining!
The food is warmed up, come and eat!
She’d bite on her straw and occasionally sneak a few glances at him. The way she looked as she put a whole dumpling in her mouth, the way she stuck out her tongue when she was burned by the soup broth, and the little white moustache that formed above her lips when she drank milk…he could remember everything.
He raised his hand and pinched the space between his eyebrows. He then walked around casually, inadvertently reaching the balcony.
The balcony had turned into a different realm as it was now more like a small study. On one end, there was a shelf filled with all kinds of flowers and plants, and on the other, there was a bookshelf filled with books. Leaning against the bookshelf, there was a rattan hanging chair. A pillow with a cute character imprinted on it was laying on the hanging chair. A bit towards the middle stood an easel with a finished oil painting, and there were still drops of coloured paint on the ground.
He leisurely walked to the hanging chair and picked the pillow up. The character imprinted on it had big eyes, a taunting smile, and Xu Jiaojiao’s appearance.
Shen Zhining closed his eyes for a moment and then shifted his gaze to the bookshelf. He was seemingly looking for something to distract himself. He threw the pillow back onto the hanging chair and grabbed a book in passing. This was a Chinese language and literature book, and there were a lot of notes in it. The owner of this book must be a very serious reader.
Simultaneously, he noticed that many books on the bookshelf were related to Chinese literature, such as classical Chinese poems, dictionaries, and some literary books. There was only one small corner filled with books related to the English major. There were very few notes in the English books, while not only were there notes in the Chinese language books, but there were also a lot of sketches inside that Classical Chinese poem book. The sketches were seemingly drawn according to the poetry verses.
This was strange. Xu Jiaojiao’s major was English, yet she was reading up on Chinese language and literature.
He could see that she really liked drawing as they could be found everywhere. Some were sparks of inspiration, some were doodles, some were bold and imaginative, and some were meticulous.
When he placed the book back on the shelf, a piece of paper fell out. Shen Zhining blankly stared at it for a moment before picking it up. When he turned it over, his eyes dwelled on it.
A very cute male character was drawn on the small piece of paper. The character had a big head, a small body, and a pair of horns on top of his black hair. He had a sullen face with two teardrops hanging at the corners of his big round eyes. There was a small badge dangling on his chest with the words ‘I was wrong’.
There was also a line of text written next to the character:
Demon King Shen, you’re finally getting your just deserts!
From those unbridled words alone, he could imagine how proud the author was at that time.
Shen Zhining pursed his lips. He suddenly remembered the scene where the little drunkard had mumbled: Demon King Shen is a jerk!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Yuna | Editor: Purpledragon | TLC: Grace